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How to Stretch the Upper Back

Three Methods:Shoulder Blade SqueezeSitting Extensions and RotationsUsing a Medicine Ball

The upper back muscles tend to get tight and tense, especially if your work involves sitting for a large portion of the day. Doing a series of light stretches can loosen the tension, prepare you for a workout or even help to improve your posture. If you have pain in your upper back, see a physician before stretching.

Method 1
Shoulder Blade Squeeze

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    Sit or stand with your back upright. This stretch is amazing because it can be performed anywhere, any time, whether you're sitting at a desk or standing in line at the post office.
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    Perform a shoulder squeeze. Rest your shoulder blades and then slowly pull them back towards each other. Your chest will thrust forward as your back muscles are stretched. Go back to starting position, then repeat the squeeze. Continue until your upper back feels less tense
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    Do not pull your shoulder blades up as you squeeze. This is a common mistake and exacerbates the tightness in your upper back by pulling your shoulders up while you squeeze.

Method 2
Sitting Extensions and Rotations

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    Sit in a hard-backed chair. Start with your back completely straight, and your head erect. Keep your feet flat on the ground and your hands at your sides. This is the starting position for each extension and rotation stretch.[1]
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    Arch toward the sky. Place your hands behind your head and arch your back, tilting your chin up to look at the ceiling. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat five times.
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    Rotate from side to side. Cross your hands over your chest. Keeping your feet planted on the floor, rotate your torso to the left. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then rotate to the right. Repeat five times on each side.
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    Do a side bend. Place your hands behind your head. Keeping your feet planted on the floor, Bend your body to the left, so that your elbow points to the floor on your left side. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then bend toward the right, so that your right elbow points to the floor on your right side. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat five times on each side.

Method 3
Using a Medicine Ball

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    Sit down on the medicine ball. Start with your back completely straight, keeping your feet flat and your hands to your side.
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    Stretch your upper trapezius by performing lateral neck flexions.
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    Stretch your levator scapulae by slowly rotating your head down. Look diagonally down to the bottom of your shirt. Hold your gaze for 2 seconds and then pull your head back into a straight position.
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    Stretch your entire back by slowly lowering into a back bend over the medicine ball. Hold the pose for 8-10 seconds and then slowly pull your body back up into a sitting position.

Tips

  • Always stretch your back but do not overdo it.
  • For chronic tightness, consider interventions such as yoga, physical therapy, or chiropractic care. Your upper back should not be tight or painful.

Warnings

  • Extreme shoulder flexibility is not necessary in life and in sports. However, stretching the chest is very important.

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